Garagiste’s Lair

Photo by Garagiste

Want to get a special bottle of wine for a gift for this weekend’s dinner party? How about wanting to try a new wine from a region you’ve been curious about? How about a bottle of utterly unique wine from one of the very best wine purveyors in the nation? At killer prices? Look no further, Garagiste has opened up a pop-up shop for the holidays.

If you’re not familiar with Garagiste and you love wine, you really should. Started by Jon Rimmerman and based in a nondescript warehouse in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, Garagiste is sort of a like a flash sale site but more carefully curated and under the watchful palate of Mr. Rimmerman. Jon writes this lush and rich descriptions of each wine in an email newsletter that goes out a few times a week and you’ll want to order almost every wine. His taste is renowned and his business model is very unique, so much so that The New York Times took notice. You should really sign up for the email list. Some of the wines are out of reach or a bit esoteric, but they are all very interesting and you’ll learn something in each email.

Here is where it gets better; this holiday season, Garagiste has opened a pop-up shop in their warehouse called the ‘Garagiste Lair’. I went on opening day and had to be sensible and not go overboard with buying as much as possible. The wines are segmented in pricing tiers; $5, $10, $15, $20, $25, and so on. At each level there are sure to be interesting wines. I partook in some Morgon for $5 and some Prosecco for $20. Was also able to scoop up some Quilceda Creek for $40. Yup, forty bucks. Some Touraine. A bottle from Mencia. But I look forward to going back to see what else is new. The inventory will be rotated and that is part of the fun about this pop-up; finding treasures amongst the stacks and bottles of wine.

If you’re in the Seattle area, love wine, or know someone that does, a visit to Garagiste’s Lair is in order. Their hours are Tuesday-Friday 11am-6pm and Saturday from 10am-5pm at the Garagiste Wine warehouse at 707 S. Lander St, Seattle 98134. But hurry up and head there soon, the pop-up is only open through the holidays.

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Wine Tasting with Stephen Tanzer – 2013 recap

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As has happened the last few summers, the esteemed wine writer, Stephen Tanzer of the International Wine Cellar, swings through Washington and there is an event where much wine was drank with him and a gaggle of other wine nerds. I did my duty to absorb as much information and vino as possible. Here now, is what happened that evening.

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When to Drink at Seattle’s Tasting Rooms

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We like wine. Using the royal ‘We’, America’s wine consumption is growing by the year.  Join in the imbibing with these Seattle-area wine purveyors. Support local! Here is a quick rundown of area tasting rooms, shops, and retailers and the days where they do some pourings. Cheers.

Bin 41
-Friday 6-7:30pm

DeLaurenti
-Saturday 2-4pm

Esquin
-Frequent tastings throughout the week, check website

Greenlake Wines
-Thursday 5-7pm

McCarthy & Schiering
-Every Saturday 11-5pm (both locations)

Pike & Western
-Wednesday 4-6pm, $5
-Friday 3-6pm, complimentary

Portalis
-Tue & Wed 3-9pm

Sixth Avenue Wine Seller
-Thursday 3-7pm, $10

The Tasting Room
-During business hours $2-5pm

Vino Verite
-Thursday 5-8pm

West Seattle Wine Cellars
-Thursday 5:30-8pm, complimentary

Wine World & Spirits
-Every weekday 6-8pm
-Every weekend 2-5pm

Another Round at Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen

Another Round is a series of posts that take a look at the wine and drink lists of area restaurants. The series will consider the story that the restaurant will have in the curation of their beverage list. Ballard’s Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen is in the crosshairs this week.

When Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen, it opened up with much fanfare. From the guys that brought the Matador restaurants throughout the Northwest, they’ve opened up the sprawling Kickin’ Boot Whiskey Kitchen off of Shilshole Ave. in Ballard. Much of the local media has covered the restaurant and the food experience, but their wine and drink list has yet to receive much review.

With a name that includes the word ‘Whiskey’ in it, know that you’re in good hands with brown liquor. The drink list is broken down into ‘Libations‘ (wine, beer, house cocktails, etc) and ‘Whiskey + Spirits‘ (whiskey and spirits, natch); both lists are robust. As befits a restaurant whose food menu leans heavily towards barbecue and items imbued with smoke and comfort, the drinks are lined up to balance with those flavors. You want a beverage with a to match that heft. Expect power, strength, and richness with the wine list. And a lot of brown liquor. Here are some highlights:

  • Bottles of white wine range from $24-100; mostly domestic
  • Bottles of red wine range from $27-220
  • By the glass program – white wines $8-10; red wines $8-17
  • They have a house bottle called ‘Kickin’ Boot Syrah’ made by Darcie Kent Vineyards; a winery in California.
  • Cocktail list is whiskey-prevalent

The decor of Kickin’ Boot reminds me of Back to the Future Part 3; it’s a bit of the Old West, but with an element of frivolity. High ceilings, windows, aplenty, and TVs everywhere, one could find themselves amongst many a bro. Not that it’s a bad thing, Kickin’ Boot clearly has a formula and they’ll do quite well with it. Heck, the restaurateurs have a formula with Matador that is rolling like gangbusters. I’d imagine that Kickin’ Boot will be packin’ ’em in and servin’ ’em up like crazy.

 
Kickin' Boot Whiskey Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Another Round at Lecosho

Another Round is a series of posts that takes a look at the wine and drink lists of area restaurants. The series will consider the story that the restaurant will have in the curation of their beverage list. Though the sightglass this week is Seattle’s Lecosho.

Located on the Harbor Steps up from Seattle’s waterfront, Lecosho has been open since September of 2010. With a name that is Chinook for ‘pig’, one would think that it would be a porcine mecca. One would be wrong. While pork is featured, it’s not exactly the driving force. You could say the same for the wine list. It’s not featured on their website and the list itself feels small with only a few dozen bottles in total. Not small, but not large either. But their porchetta is the star of the show and the wine follows in line.

Here is what I gathered from the wine list:

  • White wines range in price from $39-90 a bottle. French and Washington wines dominate the list. Thoughout the list are unique varietals with a hallmark of acidity (always good to balance rich dishes).
  • Red wines are between $35-98 for a bottle. Wines from the Northwest and Italy are prevalent with acidity and fruit-forward flavor profiles as the name of the game.
  • The wine-by-the-glass program has less well known varietals and white wines are priced between $7-10, with reds between $8-13.
  • Sparkling wines are between $47 (for a a half bottle) to $112.

The drink list is also not on their website, but they do feature the Martinez; an under-rated cocktail that is purported to be the precursor the Martini. And it was an excellent cocktail; the balance of the gin with the sweet vermouth offers a beguiling tone.

What the wine list is telling me is that the wines are intended to have acidity and fruit to balance the perceived richness that the menu entails. The goal of any restaurant is to have a pairing between food and wine balance, and that is what Lecosho is trying to do. It’s not exactly an exciting list, but you go to Lecosho for the notion of pork, not for wine.
Lecosho on Urbanspoon

How to tick off a wine snob; ice cubes in wine

This post originally appeared on Seattlest

There are a host of faux pas that one can make when it comes to wine. Drinking wine too warm (or too cold). Storing bottles in too warm of a place. Keeping bottles in your car (don’t do this). Confusing your Cabernet Sauvignon from your Sauvignon Blanc. But there is perhaps none worse than putting ice cubes in wine. Or so I thought.

Before we get to the moment where I took pause with putting ice cubes in a glass of wine, let’s delve into why this is bad form.

Would you ever consider putting ice cubes in milk? Beer? Orange juice? Of course not, it’s weird. The additional frozen water just expedites the process of watering down your beverage. And watered down wine isn’t a good thing. It dilutes the flavor and thins out whatever nuance the wine has to begin with. Additionally, it’ll bring down the temperature a bit too quickly. Wine is intended to be served at room temperature, but note that this was room temperature from ancient times. The modern room temperature of 72 degrees is deemed too warm. Wine academics would prefer that wine is served about 12-15 degrees south of that.

But some folks still like putting ice cubes in wine. While there is nothing wrong with it, it’s not exactly suggested practice. So you can imagine my surprise when I found out that superstar chef (and Seattle’s own) Mario Batali adds ice cubes to his wine. But, Le Grande Orange does it a bit differently and he certainly ‘chefs’ it up. According to the folks at Grub Street, he makes a light simple syrup and squeezes some fruit juice in it before freezing the concoction as ice cubes. And then he adds it to Rosé. How about that? While this isn’t exactly an ice cube (it’s more of a light popsicle), it does the same thing as ice; it lowers the temperature and dilutes the wine’s flavor. Mario just does it differently and amps it with fruit juice and simple syrup. His noted celebrity chef status simply makes the whole thing sound plausible, so plausible that I even tried it.

In the end, while I’m not an advocate for ice cubes in wine, you have an option. But please don’t add ice cubes to red wine. If you really want to do that, make sangria.

Open That Bottle Night – Saturday, February 28

This Saturday is Open That Bottle Night, an evening to finally crack that bottle of wine you’ve been saving for that ‘special occasion’. It was started by the wine writers at the Wall Street Journal, Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher, and gestated as an evening to finally open that bottle of wine that you’ve been saving. They kept getting letters from people asking things like: “when is the best time to open this bottle?” or “what’s it’s aging potential?” They’re conclusion was to just open the bottle, but make the occasion special. Sign me up!

Dorothy and John write the Tastings column in the WSJ and Open That Bottle Night has been rolling around since the late 90’s, this Saturday’s will be the 10th annual. Reason to celebrate of course. It always lands on the last Saturday of February and provides wine drinkers from all over to finally open that bottle. And if you’ve been drinking wine for anytime you will have all sorts of bottles that fit under this banner.

I have a bunch, nothing too valuable, so no 1st growths or California cults, but there are bottles that have special meaning and I think are great. But the inverse is that I get a little gun-shy to open them. Will I open it at it’s peak? Will my dinner guests appreciate it? These questions can be a little pretentious, but the wine drinkers out there know what I’m talking about. In other words, I’m not opening that bottle of Betz for those friends that love Yellowtail. A little snobby? Yes.

That is why I love Open That Bottle Night; a great excuse to drink up, enjoy wine, have fun with friends, and share stories about wine – about anything. In fact, Dorothy and John also provided some great tips on hosting your own OTBN night. And if you didn’t want to have a dinner party there are spots around the country hosting OTBN parties.

In Seattle, the Art Institute’s Portfolio Restaurant will be hosting an OTBN dinner. It’ll be on Friday 2/27 from 6-9pm and the upper level students will be preparing a four-course meal, the AI’s wine educator Dieter Schafer will provide guidance, and it’s all for $30! Bring your bottle and the corking fee is waived too. It all goes to support the culinary stars of tomorrow at Portfolio, so revel in a night of good vino. Reservations are required, so call 206.239.2363.

What will I open this evening? I’m not quite sure. But I know I’ll be looking forward to drinking it.